Monday, September 7, 2009

Great Expectations of Affections

I have been digesting Jonathan Edwards' Religious Affections for a little while now (and when I say a little while, I think saying words like six and months might be in the ballpark). I think the thing that I love most about reading this work by Edwards is that he is so poignant at stating what is or should be a matter of fact for the Christian. Edwards is responding to the question how does one really know that he or she is saved? His approach to this topic is not meant for casual conversation or light theological discussions around the campfire. No, Edwards is thorough - as in so thorough I did not even realize that I had so many reasons or evidence why I was a Christian until I read this book.

There are two things that I want to briefly touch on from this book - one a subject matter and the second is merely a passage to leave you thinking.

I came up with the title of this blog while listening to a sermon a couple of Sundays ago. I think that the spiritual way of saying it is that the Holy Spirit planted in my head something I had read that morning and did not fully reveal its meaning to me until my mind began to wander in said sermon. One of Edwards' points about true religious affections is that "we must view humility as one of the most essential things that characterizes true Christianity." Edwards spends many words on how humility is characterized in a Christian, and I think that his main point is that humility will cause us to be affected by our sin. Now earlier, he had already noted that a true Christian will experience this thing called repentance in response to sin, but here he is making the point that a true Christian will be humbled by their sin because they truly understand their relationship to God - He is holy, I am not; He is great and good and wonderful and awe-inspiring and yet again I am not. The fundamental difference between God and us causes the true Christian to experience humility. And it becomes this wonderful cycle for the true Christian; as they discover more of God in their walk, they realize how much greater He is, causing further humility - while other Christians might see these great giants of faith before their eyes (such as when I read these books by Jonathan Edwards and think that he is incredible spiritual), that person as a truly affected Christian is experiencing humility before God causing a desire to know more, grow more and in the end experience more humility.

So, "A Lesson in Humility" has been born. Embarking on a journey to study more about the history of doctrine, faith, Christianity, etc., I have realized through the great words of Jonathan Edwards that I am heading into a journey that will not take me to great heights, but hopefully to a place of great humility and reverence, because the more that I will discover God through this process, the more affected I should become. And here is where I would like to leave you with a passage from Religious Affections that I have had highlighted for quite some time now *cough* six months *cough*

"Thus, truly Christian love, either to God or man, is a humble brokenhearted love. The desires of the saints, however earnest, are humble desires. Their hope is a humble hope. Their joy even, when it is unspeakable and full of glory, is a humble, brokenhearted joy that leaves the Christian more poor in spirit, more like a child, and more disposed to humble behavior."

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